News10NBC Investigates: Assemblyman calls for action following News10NBC nursing home investigation

[anvplayer video=”5151698″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. State Assemblyman Harry Bronson is calling for a Department of Health investigation following the News10NBC investigation of Waterview Heights, formerly The Shore Winds Nursing Home.

I sat down with the assemblyman Wednesday, just moments before he left for Albany for a press conference addressing severe understaffing at hospitals and nursing homes.

Last week I told you about a family’s claims that their mother wasn’t given critical medications because there was no one on staff authorized to administer them. And now a staff member has reached out to me to confirm their story.

It was Sunday, Nov. 20. The family of Carol Lennox called an ambulance to rush their mother to the hospital. She had been living at Waterview Heights, formerly known as The Shore Winds when her daughter says she visited and found her mother struggling to breathe.

“I go, ‘Did she have her meds?’” recalled Patty Grimshaw, Carol’s daughter. “He goes, ‘I can’t give her meds. I’m only a CNA.’ And I go, ‘So you mean to tell me that she has not had any meds this morning?’ He goes, ‘No I’ve been here since 6:30 this morning and nobody’s gotten their meds.’ ‘I go, ‘Nobody? Nobody!'”

Only licensed nurses can administer medication at nursing homes. I spoke to a Waterview Heights employee who confirms there was not a licensed nurse on duty on the floor that day. Assemblyman Harry Bronson says if true, that’s a clear violation of state law.

“Unacceptable,” said Bronson. “Unacceptable. And you need to be punished to the fullest extent for this to happen. There is absolutely no reasonable position that could be taken not to have a nurse at that facility.”

I reached out to Bruce Gendron, a vice president of The Grand Healthcare System, the company that now owns the nursing home. He claimed the employee with whom I spoke had been fired and is lying. He wrote, “I believe you are dealing with a disgruntled former employee and should consider your source carefully. He did not work alone, [sic] we were appropriately staffed for that day.”

But Lennox’s family insists there was not a nurse on staff that day. Carol Ann Lennox died six days later. And Assemblyman Bronson now points to those responsible for regulating nursing homes.

“Let’s hold the Department of Health accountable,” said Bronson. “If things are being reported, let’s make sure that they’re being investigated and corrective actions are being taken and penalties are being levied if indeed they’re in violation of the rules and the laws.”

So I reached out to the Department of Health. Department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond wrote, “At the New York State Department of Health, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the residents who call The Shore Winds home is of the highest concern. That is why we launched an investigation after the Department recently received a complaint concerning The Shore Winds. As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”

But he stressed that if you have a complaint about any nursing home you should call the complaint line: 1-888-201-4563.

Each complaint to the Centralized Complaint line is kept confidential, and at the conclusion of every investigation, the outcome is shared with the complainant.

About Nursing Home Inspections:

Nursing home surveys are conducted in accordance with federal regulations. All complaints are reviewed to determine if the issue is a possible regulatory violation, if it falls under the Department’s jurisdiction and if it requires referral to another NYS agency. Once the review is completed, complaints are then triaged based on federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines. The Department performs multiple types of surveillance activities on an ongoing basis. This can include unannounced onsite surveys as well as offsite record reviews.

Nursing homes are required to submit a written plan of correction (POC) to the Department when deficiencies are cited. The POC must indicate what the facility will do to correct the specific violations cited. The responsibility for identifying how the facility will correct the deficient practice and for submitting an acceptable plan of correction is that of the provider. The Department accepts or rejects a POC based on a comprehensive review.

DOH will determine through the post-survey process whether the facility has implemented the approved plan of corrections.

If determined not to be in compliance, then the facility will be issued a new statement of deficiencies and required to submit a new plan of correction.

As for the Grand Healthcare System, the company that owns Waterview Heights, Vice President Bruce Gendron further wrote, “Our staffing and pay schedules show staff on all units for that day [sic]. And also show that the employee you mention did not work alone. Again, this employee was terminated. I don’t expect him to be an unbiased witness.”

News10NBC will continue to follow the Health Department’s investigation.